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Brandon Allen, 1B, Diamondbacks, (Triple-A Reno)

Here’s a quick quiz: Who is the best position-playing prospect in the Arizona system? The answer is Allen, and when you take a further step back, it’s not even close. On yet another run in Reno (11-for-21 in last five games), Allen is now batting .348/.427/.697 in 34 games for the Aces since being acquired from the White Sox, while adding six stolen bases to prove that he’s not the lumbering slugger that his 240-pound frame might suggest. Combine what he’s doing with the production the D’backs have gotten from first base this year, and everything is lined up for him entering next spring with the job to lose.


Tim Beckham, SS, Rays (Low-A Bowling Green)


As we finalize the outcomes of the 2009 draft today, it’s a good time to note what last year’s top pick is doing, and the answer is, “Not a whole helluva lot,” according to one scout who recently saw him. Batting just .265/.320/.381 in 105 games, Beckham doesn’t even offer many hidden gems in his stat line, as he’s not walking much while striking out nearly once a game, and has stolen just nine bases in 17 attempts. Pro scouts are saying his tools grade out well, but they’re seemingly not as glowing about them as the amateur scouts were about him. He’s going to be tough to slot come off-season ranking time.


David Cooper, 1B, Jays (Double-A New Hampshire)

Starting a guy in Double-A for his first full-season assignment is aggressive. Some elite-level guys can handle it, but even players like Buster Posey and Pedro Alvarez began the year at High-A. Cooper has struggled in the Eastern League for much of the year, but he seems to be getting some traction, going 13-for-30 with four doubles and a pair of home runs in his last seven games to help give him a .283/.341/.478 line since the All-Star break. He remains a doubles machine with a healthy walk rate, but he needs to keep mashing to get to the big leagues, as the bat is the only tool.


Clint Everts, RHP, Nationals (Triple-A Syracuse)

This really is one of the feel-good stories of the year for me, and I’m surprised it’s not getting more attention. The fifth overall pick all the way back in 2002, when the franchise was still the Expos, Everts’ career was completely derailed by Tommy John surgery and other arm issues, but he never stopped working at it, and all of a sudden he’s on the cusp of getting called up the big leagues. Beginning the year at High-A Potomac for the fourth straight year, the 25-year-old reached Triple-A last week, had a pair of scoreless outings over the weekend, and he now has a 1.23 ERA in 36 games across three levels, with more than a strikeout per inning thanks to a curveball that remains a plus pitch. Root for him.


Tim Fedroff, OF, Indians (High-A Kinston)

On June 20th, in a 5-0 win over Lynchburg, Fedroff went 0-for-4. What’s notable about this is that it’s the last game that Fedroff failed to reach base, as he extended his streak to 35 games by going 6-for-12 over the weekend with four doubles and four walks. Now batting .500 (27-for-54) in August and .354/.447/.485 since the All-Star break, Fedroff’s patient approach and line-drive bat has scouts projecting him as a possible old-school leadoff man if he can improve in center field.


Ryan Flaherty, INF, Cubs (Low-A Peoria)

While Double-A is a bit of an aggressive push for a player’s full-season debut, for a guy like Flaherty, a supplemental first-round pick last year out of Vanderbilt, beginning the year at Low-A seemed a bit conservative, so his slow start to the year was cause for genuine concern. Happily, not only has he found his stroke, he’s also maintained his power; after hitting homers on Saturday and Sunday, he’s now hitting .301 since the All-Star break, and .267/.333/.467 overall. As a player with that kind of pop who can at least hold his own at three infield positions, he’s definitely still a prospect.


Ryan Kalish, CF, Red Sox (Double-A Portland)

I’m not going to lie here, Kalish has been one of ‘my guys’ since his brief but electrifying performance in the New York-Penn League two years ago. A wrist injury sapped him throughout 2008, but he clearly seems to be back this year, and has been one of the hottest hitters in the Eastern League lately. After hitting home runs on Friday and Sunday to continue his current run, he’s now batting .325/.398/.607 in his last 30 games, to go with seven bombs and five stolen bases in that time. With at least average tools across the board, on top of the ability to play center, he remains a pretty rare commodity.


David Lough, OF, Royals (Double-A Northwest Arkansas)

An 11th-round pick in 2007 out of a small Pennsylvania college, Lough is one of the best athletes in the Royals’ system, and his .268/.329/.455 line at Low-A Burlington last year showed why the organization was so excited by his promise. Entering the year as a 23-year-old, Lough had to make another great leap forward, but he’s done exactly that, hitting .320/.370/.473 at High-A Wilmington and getting even better since moving up to the Texas League, as a 7-for-14 weekend with two home runs upped his Double-A line to an impressive .353/.396/.575 in 40 games. This is a breakout season by any measurement.


Stephen Strasburg, RHP, Nationals (at least by draft rights)

So, today is the day, and with less than 12 hours to go before the signing deadline, ten of the top 15 picks have yet to sign, and everyone is in panic mode. By everyone, I mean readers who have my e-mail address, IM handle, or follow me on Twitter. All of that said, the teams themselves aren’t panicking at all. Strasburg is certainly a unique case, but this really is business as usual, as the number of deadline day holdouts increases each year. Why? Because that’s who gets the money, not because they’re not going to sign. While things are looking like at least one top pick might not get a deal done, the fact that there are late negotiations does not mean that those talks aren’t going well.


Ryan Wheeler, 1B, Diamondbacks (Short-season Yakima)

A fifth-round pick this year out of Loyola Marymount, all Wheeler has ever done is hit, but an overall lack of toolsiness is what had him waiting until the 156th pick to get selected. A big athlete with plenty of power potential, Wheeler is more of a pure hitter than a slugger, and he adds outstanding plate discipline and an impressive feel for contact. While Brandon Allen hardly has anything to worry about just yet, after a trio of three-hit games over the weekend, Wheeler is now batting .342/.449/.523 in his first 53 games as a pro.

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killebrew
8/17
"While things are looking like at least one top pick might not get a deal done" Could you be more specific, or are you just playing the odds?
kgoldstein
8/17
A little of both. I think this might be the year where I tell everyone that all of these guys are going to sign and end up being wrong. Right now, Matzek (Rockies), Purke (Rangers) and Washington (Rays) all look shaky.
blazeswim
8/17
I assume by naming those three that you believe that Strasburg will still get done?
kgoldstein
8/17
I really do.
SaberTJ
8/17
Kevin, Any word on Jason Knapp's second start with the Captains?
choms57
8/17
KG, Anthony Gose is having a season pretty much equal to Beckham with a little less power and more speed. Agree?
kgoldstein
8/17
Numbers wise maybe, but he's not in his league as a prospect still.
lagronem
8/17
David Lough, not Shane, right?
rweiler
8/17
Why doesn't Brock Bond get any love? I know the guy was like a 24th round draft pick or something, but he has led the Eastern League in OBP and BA pretty much all season even after a bad week, and he has put up OBP's near 400 at every level. Granted, he doesn't seem to have more than doubles power, and I've never seen him play, but you would think that on a team like the Giants where 330 is a good OBP for anybody not named Pablo Sandoval, he could be an impact player. At this point, it is hard to believe the .400 OBP is a fluke.
gaucho2101
8/17
I'm not quite in full panic mode, but I admit to a level of high anxiety re the A's signing Grant Green. My concern is that Boras will be so tied up finalizing his other top 10 picks in the final hour(s), he may not have time to finalize devote to finalizing the deal with Oakland. Is this a legitimate concern?
sde1015
8/17
That's something I've wondered about: clearly Boras (and other top agents) have staff working for them who handle a lot of the negotiating, but with so many top picks, it doesn't seem possible that Boras personally can be more than superficially involved at this stage with much of the negotiations. Or am I wrong and he's superhuman, able to be in 10 places at once? I guess this is part of the sausage I wish KG would share some info on: how do these negotiations proceed? Who's actually sitting at the table? Is it a table? And if it's not Boras personally, does he tell the players up front that they're hiring his agency and not necessarily him.
kgoldstein
8/17
This was one of the most requested 'how the sausage is made' requests, and while also the most difficult to fulfill, I'm efforting to turn this into something.
HugeShoulderpad
8/18
"efforting"?
roycewebb
8/18
Big word in newsrooms and daily newspaper budgets. "Efforting folo (follow-up story)." My favorite though is "unhave," as in "we unhave a photo of the suspect at this time."
rgrunder
8/17
KG, I'm sure you tire of random questions about minor leaguers, but it's really hard to find information on these guys beyond the very surface-level stuff. Specifically, I'm wondering how Angel Salome's catching has progressed--will he get shot to catch w/the Brewers next year? Also, what injury did Willin Rosario suffer? (I've tried asking this in chat format too, but to no avail.) Thanks!
nwherry
8/17
Is there anything to indicate Cooper's power potential turning those doubles into HR? Over/under, 3 seasons of 30 HR?
dglawschool
8/17
Still seems like Fedroff is going to actually earn the cliched tweener label. How would you compare Jason Kipnis?
tribe4me
8/18
Hopefully Tim Fedroff will be ready to take over center field by 2011 when Grady Sizemore will be traded away in the annual fire sale.
mhmosher
8/18
Yup - to the Yankees.
onegameref
8/18
What do you think of the Cubs Peoria outfield? I think Jackson and Burke look like 2/3 of a fine future alignment at Wrigley. Now if we could just shunt Sori to the cornfield all would be well in Cubs town.